16 Arrested After Labor Demonstration Disrupts LAX Traffic During Busy Travel Week

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A labor demonstration at Los Angeles International Airport on one of its busiest travel days contributed to traffic congestion in the area on Tuesday.

LAX officials warned passengers heading to the airport between 2 and 8 p.m. they would need extra time to reach the Central Terminal Area, according to a news release from Los Angeles World Airports.

The protest had forced the closure of westbound Century Boulevard at Vicksburg Avenue, near the LAX entrance. But the thoroughfare was reopened  when the protest began winding down around 7 p.m.

The demonstration was put on by Unite Here, seeking higher wages and benefits for airline catering workers.

It ended with 16 protesters being arrested, L.A. Police Officer Mike Lopez said.

Motorists had been encouraged to use alternate routes like Sepulveda Boulevard to reach LAX in the afternoon and evening hours.

The demonstration did not impact flight operations. Officials had said some terminals could be impacted when marchers headed from Terminal 4 to the Central Terminal Area beginning around 3 p.m.

The Los Angeles Airport Police Division, the Los Angeles Police Department and the L.A. Department of Transformation worked to maintain airport access during the event, and additional traffic officers were assigned to assist.

LAX anticipates Tuesday will be among the busiest travel days of the Thanksgiving holiday period, with an estimated 232,000 passengers going through the airport. About 110,000 vehicles are expected to go through LAX.

Maria Hernandez with Unite Here defended the group's decision to hold a demonstration on one of the airport's busiest travel days of the year.

"We thought … it’s a good opportunity to get our message across to as many passengers as possible," she told KTLA. "We're going to want to talk to them."

Demonstrations are also taking place in 17 other cities across the U.S., including New York, Miami and Washington, D.C., Hernandez said.

Even before the afternoon activity, the airport had already advised passengers to allot extra time to reach the airport, go through security and get to their gate.

And traffic was already heavy at LAX on Tuesday morning after the discovery of a suspicious item prompted officials to shut down a stretch of Century Boulevard.

Vehicles on the upper level moving were moving at a crawl as of 9 a.m., video from the scene showed.

Century was reopened a short time later after the item was cleared by an airport police bomb squad.

The latest updates on traffic conditions in and around LAX can be found on Twitter at @FlyLAXAirport and @FlyLAXStats.

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